Downward dog, warrior, bridge—if you’ve taken a yoga class or two, you’re probably well aware of most instructors’ go-to poses. While there’s nothing wrong with a standard Vinyasa flow, it's fun to change up your practice from time to time, and really put your balance, strength, and agility to the test.
“I love going off the beaten path with yoga,” says Lauren Porat, yoga instructor and founder of YogaSpark. “I like to incorporate more core activation and glute work, as well as funky transitions that no one sees coming.” She finds that switching up her students’ practice is not only a great physical challenge, but also a mental one. Rather than flowing from one pose to the next on autopilot, Porat says learning a new variation forces her students to really pay attention to her instruction and focus on their bodies—which also means they’re tuning out the outside world along with their own mental chatter.
Plus, Porat says, “Trying new things is incredibly empowering—and my clients end up carrying this strength, peace and confidence with them off the mat.” So whether you’re looking to change up your routine, challenge your coordination, or maybe even rock a cool new pose for an Instagram photo (hey, we’re not judging!), here are seven of Lauren’s favorite unique poses.
Knee to chest from high lunge
One-legged bridge lifts
Kundalini’s descent with a twist
Bend your right knee a few inches down and cross the left knee outside your right. Bring your hands in prayer at heart center and hook your left elbow outside the right knee. To deepen the pose, squeeze your thighs together, engage your core by lifting your torso an inch off your thigh, and try to bring your left heel to your butt.
From a wide-leg goddess stance, raise one or both heels off the mat and pulse your butt an inch down and then up, for a fun yet effective glute-toner. Or for another variation, place your hands behind your neck and work your obliques by crunching from side to side. Just be sure to keep your back flat the entire time.